A training accident in Tennessee has left two Navy pilots dead and the country wondering if the planes are safe.
An instructor and student were flying a T-45C training jet over the Cherokee National Forest in Tellico Plains, Tennessee on Sunday. Due to the remote location, the Navy could not get to the crash until today. A Navy press release stated;
“Two pilots were aboard the aircraft, an instructor and a student. The pilots did not survive the incident. Names of the pilots are being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin notification.”
Although the crash was in Tennessee, the aircraft was based out of Training Air Wing One at Naval Air Station Meridian, Massachusetts. Sadly, this jet trainer has a history of problems for the Navy.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) October 2, 2017
Various injuries and death have been attributed to problems with the aircraft. Issues with the jet’s oxygen system which have led to pilots losing consciousness and having accidents. This has even led to long-term health problems.
In response, the Navy pause production of the T-45C. This has resulted in pilot training levels falling. Then the Navy placed further restrictions on flights in the troubled jet.
100 pilots voiced their concerns in April. They refused to fly in the T-45C and longer due to senior officials not adequately addressing the problem. “The pilots don’t feel safe flying this aircraft,” one instructor pilot stated. In April Mac Thornberry (R-TX) took up the cause saying;
“There is no question that there are problems that are being covered up. I am very concerned about the issue. It’s been getting worse over time and if you look at the statistics, the older airplanes are having bigger problems than newer airplanes.”
Perhaps this latest tragedy will be enough to spur action from more Navy officials and lawmakers.